To be completely honest, Marvel Studios has been in a tough spot. Secret Invasion seemed to be a let-down for fans for its over-estimation of being a spy conspiracy thriller and it put things in a spur. While some projects, like Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, were able to bring refreshing, if bittersweet resolutions, it looked like Marvel may have been slowing down. Fortunately, with a celebrated series like Loki finally returning, fans wondered if Marvel could make a big comeback. I’m honestly happy to say that it has, exceeding even my own expectations.
Quick Season 1 Finale Recap
To recap last season’s finale, Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) ended up back in the TVA after he and Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) found He Who Remains (Jonathan Majors) at the end of time. Sylvie’s actions caused its own ripple effect: the multiverse continues to branch, as learned in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home, with infinite timelines branching out from the MCU’s “sacred” timeline.
Now, with Loki discovering that he’s in a different TVA all together, he may only hope that everything he’s done hasn’t gone without impact. Luckily for him, and the fans, this episode wonderfully ties so many of its manifesting conflicts together in this action-packed continuation.
Loki Season 2 Episode 1 Recap Review
Right off the bat, Loki’s already trying to make his escape from Mobius (Owen Wilson) and the rest of the TVA’s forces in an escape sequence that balances the fast-paced movement from set to set with that touch of slow motion. The episode doesn’t waste any time trying to convolute itself as Loki’s accidental chaos throughout the TVA spices things up as he eventually crashes into the room where Mobius and Hunter B-15 (Wunmi Mosaku) were watching the Sacred Timeline branch, albeit this time with Casey (Eugene Cordero) cleaning things up.
Despite Loki trying to find help, he somehow time-jumps back to the TVA where he’s known by everyone. Prior to this, there’s an important emotional moment between Mobius and B-15 as they discuss the ramifications of giving the timeline and everyone within it free will.
The episode creates this philosophical dilemma of who should receive free will and what will everyone within these timelines do with it with such great performances from Wilson and Mosaku. It’s even more terrifying when Loki realizes that he’s time-jumping between the TVA’s Kang-ruled past and crippling present.
This continues as Hunter X-5 (Rafael Casal) wittingly snitches on the two to the TVA’s new council, headed by General Dox (Kate Dickie) and Judge Gamble (Liz Carr). In this entire scene, an intense dread, supplemented by suspenseful camerawork, happily builds up the stakes as B-15, Dox, and Gamble debate about what the TVA will do now.
In addition, Loki figures out that He Who Remains and Ravonna Renslayer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) had quite the lover’s past in a way that already sears that existential threat deeper if it hasn’t already. This beautifully concludes with Loki’s perfectly-placed time-jump tirelessly trying to tell all of them the truth, pruning the Time Keeper’s mural and exposing He Who Remains to all of them.
Loki’s existential crisis perfectly bounces off Mobius’ more calmer, rational attitude as Loki tries to reason with him about the impending multiversal war, playing on both actors’ strong chemistry first made in the previous season.
However, while this part is intricately built up, there’s another scene that fits in this story perfectly: OB (Ke Huy Quan), better known as Ouroboros, trying to explain Loki’s time-slipping as Mobius and Loki have two conversations from the past and the present.
The episode seamlessly transitions with hard switches between the three of them in a comedic, yet serious way that helps build on the main cast’s chemistry, which seems like everyone has nailed especially for Key Huy Quan. However, the explanations for the flow of time and maintenance within the TVA can often feel confusing with the episode focusing more on the flow of action between each character’s perspectives.
All these points build up to what is the episode’s most harrowing moment that’s surprisingly in this season’s beginning: Mobius’ sacrifice play to save Loki by utilizing the Temporal Loom in the timeless void (very different from the Void from season 1.)
As Mobius tries to hold on for dear life while Loki cautiously makes his way around in a futuristic, dystopian TVA plays on the show’s terrifying existential aspects utilizing claustrophobic camerawork to hone that unsettling fear. OB still manages to have that comical charming touch as he guides Mobius, but in an act of desperation, he’s forced to close Mobius off even though he doesn’t want to.
In a climaxing moment of terror with a phone ring and an elevator door, Loki manages to find Sylvie only to prune himself back into the present at the last possible moment. Though brief, it was incredibly touching to see Loki and Sylvie reunite after such a fiery conclusion last season, but it also forms a new loose end as to why and how Sylvie ended up there in the first place.
With this revelation, Loki now sets it upon himself to find Sylvie before the TVA’s Minutemen can retrieve her as a disruptor of the peace. However, it seems like Sylvie’s found her own solitude after escaping He Who Remains’ citadel, finding herself in the 1970s McDonald’s appreciating the little things given from free will in a post-credits scene.
It’s an interesting change of pace to see Sylvie in a more peaceful state given that her actions influenced the entire multiverse’s formation, perhaps wanting to escape from the mess she’s made in the way she can in this optimistic ending.
The first episode of Loki‘s second season manages to not only successfully intensify the burning multiversal stakes set by Marvel Studios’ previous films but also sets a higher bar with its immersive storytelling, Natalie Holt’s beautifully alluring music, and captivating characters. Though it may focus more on its world-building, the episode still captures the philosophical curiosity of what made an expansive show like Loki so memorable without having to slow down.
Eric Martin’s writing is happily supplemented by such impactful performances right from the get-go in addition to the terrifying, yet eye-catching cinematography that intensifies Loki’s present struggle to convince Mobius and the rest of the TVA of He Who Remains’ past doings. While Marvel Studios had a few missteps, save for Guardians 3, hopefully, this show will continue to light the way as it’s done in this astounding first episode.
Rating – 4.5 out of 5 Stars
Loki Season 2 is now streaming on Disney+. New episodes release weekly.
This review was written during the 2023 WGA (now resolved) and SAG-AFTRA (ongoing) strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the series/movie being covered here wouldn’t exist.